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The most dangerous time of the year

Lexington Park, MD - Every holiday, fire and rescue services harp on safety precautions that help cut down on the dangers posed by the holiday season. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) states that “Almost half of home fires (47 percent) and more than half (54 percent) of home fire deaths occur in the cooler months of November through March.” This is caused by a combination of increased cooking for the holidays and not taking proper safety precautions while heating your home.

With cooking equipment being the leading cause for home fires, holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas Eve cause structure fires and injuries to peak, according to ESFI. The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office added, in a safety release, not to use “kitchen stoves or ovens to supply heat.” Continuing that, they are not made for heating your home and “the chance of a fire improves greatly. Inspect cooking equipment before use and keep combustible items clear of stoves and other appliances.

Home heating is the second-leading cause of fires over the holiday season. ESFI states that “In 2008, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 66,100 home fires, resulting in 480 deaths, 1,660 injuries and $1.1 billion in property damage.” The state fire marshal’s office suggests that you make sure that fireplaces, wood stoves, and pellet stoves are installed properly and are up to code. Make sure to clean your chimney before using it and never use gasoline in “portable non-vented fuel-fired heaters, such as kerosene heaters.”

If you need to use electrical space heaters to help heat your home, only use ones that have been “approved by an authorized testing laboratory such as UL.” Never use an extension cord or power strip for electric heaters, only plug them directly into the outlet. Extension cords and power strips “can easily overheat and cause a fire.” Make sure a three-foot radius is clear of anything combustible around the heater. “Space heaters result in far more fires and losses than central heating devices and have higher risks relative to usage,” according to ESFI.

In the safety release, State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci comments that, “Fire and life safety is everyone’s responsibility; by testing smoke alarms and CO detectors, keeping exits clear of obstructions, and maintaining fire alarms and fire sprinkler systems, we can all avoid injury or death from the effects of fire.”

The safety report concluded by stating, “If a fire occurs inside your home, close the doors behind you as you vacate to the outside, call 911 and never go back inside the home.  Tell arriving first responders if anyone is still inside.”

Be sure to take proper safety precautions and stay safe this holiday season.

Contact Jerold at staffwriter@thebaynet.com.

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